Asda Cookstown has been named Northern Ireland’s first Tourette’s syndrome-friendly store after 10-year-old Deaglan McCallion asked for the store's help to raise awareness of the condition.
The team at Asda Cookstown, led by the store's community champion Janice Gibson, spent some time with Deaglan and helped him host an awareness event in store for his own Facebook support group, Tourette's Support NI, along with the support of local organisation, DADS who lead the Empower Project to support children under 12 with Autism, Dyslexia and Dyspraxia.
Deaglan's motto is "Be Kind” and during his visit he spoke to customers about how Tourette’s has affected him. The team at Asda also held staff training to educate their colleagues on Tourette’s syndrome and this led to the groups naming Asda Cookstown as one of the first Tourette’s friendly business in Northern Ireland.
Deaglan’s mum, Louise McCallion, said: "I am so proud of Deaglan every day. He absolutely loved being in Asda Cookstown and he was completely relaxed the whole time. He said this is the first time he got to be himself.
"The team at Asda Cookstown were so welcoming with staff and customers chatting away to Deaglan and making him feel really comfortable. As a family, it means so much to be accepted, we are always shopping in Asda but it’s great to know we can go into the store anytime and feel at ease.
"We’d like to say a huge thank you to Janice and the whole team at Asda Cookstown along with Josie from Empower Project who has been amazing and a great support to our family for a long time."
Manager of the Empower Project, Josie McGuckin, said: “This event was one of the highlights of our entire project. Asda has put us on the map! DADS and the Empower Project will continue to work for any child who has learning differences. We are deeply grateful to Asda Community Champion Janice and to the management of Asda Cookstown.”
Janice said: “We want to be Tourette’s friendly for everyone and ensure we can fully support our customers and staff, so we jumped at the opportunity to support Deaglan’s event. We will be hosting more events throughout the year because we want to support people living with Tourette’s as much as we can.
“We are all in awe of Deaglan and his commitment to raising awareness of this important cause. Our customers and colleagues loved him, with many people congratulating Deaglan on the day and sharing their own stories. It was great to see people were open and willing to share their experience.
“We decided to take it one step further by training all of our staff with the help of Empower project. We also now have a section on our community board providing information to customers. Well done Deaglan and family – and thank you to all our colleagues and customers for their support."